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Hookah Foil vs HMD - What's the difference?

Hookah Foil vs HMD - What's the difference?

28th Dec 2021

Today, we will be going over two of the most common forms of heat management - hookah foil and heat management devices, or HMDs. Both, when used correctly, produce a great quality smoke, but each has its pros and cons. Let’s compare!

#1: COST

A quality HMD may cost around $50, which can be a steep investment if you’re just starting out with a new setup, but it will last you years of use.

On the other hand, hookah foil will run you just a few dollars which should supply enough for 50 sessions or more.


If you’re looking for simplicity, an HMD completely replaces foil and saves time. Just add the coals, set it and forget it!

Foil requires more time and skill to wrap a bowl and meticulously punch holes. Yet, you can always spend a little more money on specialty hookah foil that is pre-poked for convenience.


This is where an HMD shines. Its purpose is not only to replace foil but also to minimize maintenance. You will only need to adjust your coals a few times throughout the session—mostly when they need to be ashed.

Because charcoal creates hot spots on foil, you will have to adjust them periodically to keep your smoke cool. Another reason you’ll be moving around your coals on foil is that they “blackout” after some time and will need to be flipped to a hotter side.


With an HMD, it’s as simple as adjusting the lid from open to closed to add or remove heat. If it’s still too hot, you can remove the lid completely.

With foil, it’s a little more work to fix a “hot” bowl. You may need to take off a coal or two entirely and perform hookah CPR. Even then, your bowl may not recover.


HMDs do an excellent job of keeping your coals protected on all sides and ensuring a longer life span, meaning you will use fewer coals altogether.

With foil, you are always at the mercy of your smoking environment. A strong fan indoors or a light breeze outdoors is all it can take to throw off your heat management, which will use your coals up much faster.


With an HMD, it’s not so convenient. Not only do you have to wait for the HMD to cool down, but you might have to scrub off any tobacco that is stuck to the bottom before you can use it again.

When it comes to the end of your session with foil, you can just toss it away.

PRO-TIP: Want to know how to get a HMD squeaky clean without all the tough elbow grease and washes? BOIL IT. By placing a HMD in boiling water for just a minute or two, the water will act as its own cleaning agent and disintegrate all that leftover molasses from your last session with minimal scrubbing from you!

WARNING: be sure to use tongs to handle your HMD when placing and removing it from the boiling water.

So what’s the right type of heat management for you? Well, as we said, both forms have their pros and cons. HMDs will use less coal and save you on time, but you lose some of that pride that goes into traditional hookah preparation. With foil, you use more charcoal and there is more preparation, but the cleaning time can’t be beaten.

Let us know which method you prefer in the comments and until next time, smoke on Fumari Family!

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